Elite Hong Kong police chasing radical protesters entered a train on Saturday night, clubbing people wearing masks with batons, pepper spraying them, and making arrests in unprecedented scenes of violence and chaos.
on Hong Kong Island to disperse rampaging protesters – who took over roads, threw petrol bombs and set barricades on fire – the clashes moved to Kowloon.
As of Sunday morning, services at MTR stations in Mong Kok and Prince Edward, on the Tsuen Wan line remained suspended, as did those at Kowloon Bay station, on the Kwun Tong line, because of vandalism at those stations, the MTR Corporation said.
Buses and other public transport had resumed normal service, while both lanes of Tim Wa Avenue, where water cannons fired streams of blue dye to disperse protesters, remained closed to traffic.
Hours earlier, more tear gas was fired, this time in the Eastern district of Chai Wan, where hundreds of residents had gathered outside police married quarters after local councillor Andy Chui Chi-kin was arrested at Chai Wan MTR station.
He was charged with disorder in public places and was still under detention on Sunday morning.
In an early morning press conference, police said 40 people had been arrested inside Prince Edward station for “participating in an illegal assembly, destroying property and obstruction of justice”.
Video footage showed members of the Special Tactical Squad, known as “raptors”, charging into a stationary train at Prince Edward station on Saturday night.
One clip showed officers from the squad hitting two men and two women in masks who were crying and cowering on the ground, while one officer pepper sprayed them.
As the officers left the cabin without making any arrests, other passengers, some of them masked, could be seen with their umbrellas up.
Other footage showed several commuters bleeding from head wounds, and officers tying up suspects who had been wrestled to the ground.
Police said they entered the MTR station as there were protesters destroying ticketing machines and the MTR control room window, and said they had received emergency calls about a dispute in the station. Mong Kok MTR station was also vandalised.
“We disagree with the allegations police officers had entered the MTR stations to beat people up,” a police spokeswoman said.
“The officers used their professional experience to distinguish protesters who had changed clothes from ordinary commuters.”
However, she later acknowledged it was difficult to differentiate protesters from ordinary citizens or reporters at the scene, and said officers had used force and pepper spray to arrest protesters after being attacked with umbrellas.
Many passengers complained about police using excessive force at Prince Edward station.
“The train stopped. Police boarded and hit me twice with a baton,” one man said. “They didn’t arrest me. They were just venting their anger by hitting me.”
as the MTR announced the suspension of three more lines – Island, South Island and Tseung Kwan O – following the earlier closure of the Tsuen Wan and Kwun Tong lines.
The rail operator released a statement strongly condemning “malicious attacks” against the railway stations.
“To protect the safety of passengers and MTR staff, trains were arranged not to stop at Mong Kok station and staff reported the case to the police. The police subsequently entered Mong Kok Station for law enforcement,” the statement said.
Announcements were made in the station to appeal to people to leave, the statement said, and the corporation suspended services on five lines “for the sake of safety”.
But a witness at Prince Edward station said: “I came up to the concourse and saw many officers chasing a protester in full gear. They kept h
itting him with their batons even after he had been subdued and arrested.”
The witness said the protester was not resisting.
After the incident, police ordered all journalists to leave the station.
But hundreds stayed outside the station until after midnight. One man asked: “Can you stop hitting citizens? Why isn’t your heart broken? Put down your differences and don’t be used by the government as political pawns.”
Earlier in the day, protesters reduced Hong Kong’s streets to charred battlefields, setting off multiple fires and hurling petrol bombs at riot police who fought back by firing blue dye from water cannons.
The incident was just one of many shocking turns during the 13th straight weekend of protests in the city.
In multiple locations on Hong Kong Island, protesters lit bonfires of cardboard and other flammable material as they moved from one district to another, leaving a trail of destruction in their wake and remaining a step ahead of police.
Defying a ban on demonstrations, they took over roads and mounted makeshift barricades, from behind which they hurled bricks and petrol bombs at police lines.
In a statement, Democratic Party lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting strongly condemned the officers for the MTR attack. He accused police of ignoring the safety of citizens and resorting to excessive use of force.
Additionally, on Saturday afternoon, police confiscated gas masks, laser pens, and other protective gear, as well as more than HK$40,000 in cash at a hotel room in Causeway Bay. Three men aged between 16 to 26 were arrested for possession of offensive weapons.
In the Western District, police arrested six men and two women for possession of offensive weapons including spray paint, hammers, and a leaf blower. They were also found in possession of fake press credentials.